Maumee native Mike Mitchell not only earned a spot to compete against the legends of golf, he also will play against three of his students in one of the sport's major events.
Mitchell, a 1980 graduate of Maumee High School, qualified for the Senior PGA Championship in St. Louis this month. Mitchell, who is a club pro and has been a golf teacher for 25 years, also will instruct three other competitors in the major event.
“I'll be working on my game and competing, but I'll also be taking care of my students at the same time,” Mitchell said. “I don't think there is another player-coach in the field. It's unique, especially for a major.”
Mitchell now resides in Rancho Mirage, Calf., just south of Palm Springs. He is the golf professional and director of instruction at The Hideaway Golf Club in La Quinta, Calif.
He serves as the primary instructor for senior touring pros Michael Allen, Steve Lowery, and Bill Glasson. All four will be in the field for the Senior Open that will be held at Bellerive Country Club May 23-26. The purse is $2 million.
“The first objective is to make the cut,” Mitchell said. “The other goals are more managing my time. I'll practice early in the week on Sunday and Monday. And then with due diligence, I will figure out how I will attack the golf course … or how it will attack me.”
He said he will lay out similar game plans for his pupils.
“It takes a lot of work just working with the guys,” Mitchell said. “But I will be playing as well. So I'll be doing things differently.”
Mitchell qualified for the tournament by placing among the top 30 in a regional qualifier in Virginia last year.
He has built a career out of instructing some of the sport's best golfers out on tour. One of his first students was John Cook, a PGA veteran who won 11 tour events before joining the Champions Tour.
Mitchell has coached Allen for 10 years and was back in Toledo helping him at the U.S. Senior Open at the Inverness Club in 2011.
“These guys have been doing this for a living for 25 to 30 years,” Mitchell said. “Each guy is a little bit different. Each guy has different objectives. Sometimes it's more maintenance related. It's mental and physical. It also involves equipment.”
Mitchell said while growing up in Maumee he played mostly at Heather Downs Country Club and South Toledo Golf Club.
“I kind of fell into it,” he said. “I caddied at Heather Downs way back in the day.”
He said he competed in Toledo District Golf Association events.
Mitchell said he primarily played public courses before joining Heather Downs Country Club after high school.
After graduating from Maumee, Mitchell played one year at the University of Toledo.
He then decided to try to earn his PGA card and said he “went out West to play on mini tours.” He said he played in what were then called Ben Hogan Tour events.
“I had hoped to develop my skill set to earn a PGA card,” he said.
At that point, Mitchell said he “fell into the teaching.”
“I have been doing that ever since,” Mitchell said.
The job has taken him to golf tournaments across the country.
“I will warm them up on the range and go out on the golf course with them,” Mitchell said. “We will talk about how to play certain holes. I'll speak to them and their caddies about anything that needs to be addressed.”
He said even the most veteran and successful golfers need positive feedback.
“Sometimes the confidence is fragile,” he said.
Mitchell said his goal at the Senior PGA Championship is to make the cut after the first two rounds.
“If I make it to the weekend, I could be playing with one of my guys,” he said. “It's the senior's major championship. It will be unique to help them prepare and to compete. I'm looking forward to it.”
Contact Mark Monroe at:
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